10 Things to Know Before Adopting a Pet Bird

man holding bird cage with pet bird

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You really want a pet bird—so much in fact that you've already picked out a name, chosen a location for its cage, and thoroughly researched your favorite species. While you might think you are prepared to dive into the world of bird ownership, there are many aspects of keeping a bird that some people don't learn until after they've brought their bird home. And they often find bird ownership was more of a lifestyle adjustment than they expected. Here are 10 tips regarding what it really takes to care for a bird on a daily basis.

  1. Get Rid of Unsafe Cookware

    Teflon or nonstick cookware can be fatal to pet birds. The coating gives off a toxic, odorless fume when heated that can kill a bird within minutes. This especially can occur when the cookware is heated to a high temperature, but it's not worth the risk to your bird's safety for any level of cooking. So if you're looking to bring a bird into your home, plan to get rid of any unsafe cookware and invest in pots and pans made of stainless steel or another bird-safe material.

  2. Say Goodbye to Candles and Air Fresheners

    As with the cookware fumes, scented candles, oils, air fresheners, cleaning supplies, and other chemical products can all pose a health hazard to your pet. Birds have extremely sensitive respiratory systems, which are easily irritated by chemicals and fumes. This can result in sudden death, depending on the quantity and substance the bird has inhaled. Or it can cause ongoing health issues. Discuss safe cleaning supplies with your veterinarian, and freshen your home with clean outdoor air if possible.

  3. Never Smoke in the House

    It should come as no surprise that cigarette smoke is just as bad—if not worse—for your bird as it is for you. If you choose to use tobacco products, use them outside and a safe distance away from any open windows. Don't forget to wash your hands before handling your bird if you've recently smoked. And remember the lingering scent on your clothing and any items within your home can have a negative impact on your bird's health, as well.

  4. Plan on Waking Up Early

    If you don't cover their cage with a light-blocking cloth, birds will wake up with the sun. And even if you do cover them, they'll usually wake up once they start hearing noises, especially outdoor birds. They are ready to start their days bright and early and will expect you to do the same. So be prepared to adjust your sleep schedule to accommodate your feathered friend. Your bird will need fresh food and water soon after waking, along with some play and socialization.

  5. Invest in a Good Vacuum

    Birds can be quite messy. Large species tend to make the most mess just because of their size, but even small birds can scatter food and feathers far and wide. In many cases, you will need to sweep or vacuum daily to keep up with the constant flow of debris that will accumulate around your pet's cage. A good vacuum that can suck up the little bits of food and feathers will make your life a lot easier. In addition, make sure you have the time and ability to keep up with this chore.

  6. Remove Toxic Houseplants

    Many common houseplants are toxic to birds, with outcomes ranging from mild illness to sudden death. Some of these plants include amaryllis flowers, lilies, philodendrons, and shamrocks. Don’t trust that your bird won’t investigate plants just because it doesn’t seem curious about them at the moment. Find new homes for these plants in spaces where your bird will never be. And in the future, choose bird-safe plant options, such as the spider plant or African violet.

  7. Watch What You Wear

    Birds are naturally attracted to shiny objects, even when they're part of your apparel. It's best to take off jewelry and any clothing with sequins or other shiny features before handling your bird to protect yourself, your pet, and your apparel. Also, especially with birds that like to chew, watch out for your buttons. Remove the temptation for your bird to chew something they're not supposed to because some of these items can be health hazards.

  8. Plan to Commit Lots of Time and Effort

    If you bring home a bird that's already tame, you can be sure a lot of time and effort went into shaping its personality. To maintain the fruits of that labor, or to tame an unsocialized bird, you must handle and interact with your bird daily. Some birds actually need several hours of daily socialization with their humans to maintain their mental and physical health. Aside from that, cage cleaning and feeding a healthy diet with fresh foods also take time and effort every day.

  9. Expect Noise

    Some birds can talk. But all of them can chirp, cackle, screech, and coo, among other noises. Birds make a variety of sounds throughout their waking hours, and there's usually no way to get them to be quiet if they don't want to be. Large birds tend to be able to produce the loudest vocalizations, but even small birds can emit constant chatter. So if you want a bird, you'll have to accept the noise in your space.

  10. Don't Assume Your Bird Will Be a Social Butterfly

Birds are generally flock animals, but that doesn't mean they love everyone. While certain species are prone to becoming "one-person birds," it can happen to any bird, particularly if only one person cares for it. If you want a bird for your family, it's imperative that everyone participates in the bird's care and socialization. Otherwise, your pet might play favorites and even become territorial over one person.